Every year at IHOPKC's annual onething Conference, I ask the Lord what the next year will look like & ask Him to give me some scriptures to confirm what He wants to teach me. If you read the blog I posted a year ago, the Lord had taken me through a year of teaching me true health & happiness. This year, the Lord told me it was the year of "love". So, being the single girl in my twenties, naturally you can guess what I thought that meant (though, to vindicate myself, the Scripture verses the Lord gave me also were ones that had been promises for that particular area of my life and therefore very convincing of what I thought I was getting). But, how many of you know, God defines things much differently than we do in our infinitely puny and self-centered minds. We think we sign up and say "yes" to our definition, but God helps to redefine all that we know to be reality. As I sat there, 2014 ended, the "love" that I had hoped for no where in sight, I began to ask the Lord as to not let my heart get disappointed and unbelieving.
2014 was an extremely rough year for me, far from anything I could think of as being "love". Since being saved in October 2010, I was known for being the radical one, the prayer girl, the "Mary of Bethany", the one who loved Jesus so much, the leader, the one who never did anything wrong, who was always best at everything, not knowing that those were identities I actually was finding my confidence in. I loved being those things. I also struggled with what I know now to be legalism, or thinking I had to earn God's love. So my motivations for loving God weren't even completely pure, though outwardly they were praised by men.
But this year, has been a year of the Lord allowing me to see my utter weakness and depravity, yet still having to let Him love me in that place. He allowed me to fail in so many areas of my devotion to Him. I had to deal with all the shame of not living up to my own or others expectations of me. I had to learn that I cannot earn God's love at all because I actually don't even have anything but my weakness to offer. I had to learn that I am not as awesome and dedicated to Jesus as I thought I was, but that He is the only One who is awesome, not because of what I can do, but because of what He already did. In my perspective, it was a year of utter failure, but not in His.
Again, God evaluates differently than we do. One day, right when I was finishing up my internship here at IHOPKC, I was so disappointed in myself, saying, "Wow, I didn't grow in the Lord at all!" All of a sudden the Lord interrupted my grumbling. "Melissa, you grew a lot... in humility." Apparently, I had a definition of growth that was not the same as His. I thought being more dedicated, getting 100% on my daily checklist of things I do for God, praying & fasting more, leading things, excelling in ministry, getting more revelation, dreams, visions, that was growth. But He could see my heart in the midst of all the failure, He could see the pride, legalism, self-sufficiency, elitism, arrogance, and confidence in the flesh being crushed in the midst of the pain and the pressure, and my weak yes to keep coming after Him even in my shame, and He called that growth. Jesus to Paul in 2 Cor 12:9 says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Everything in our flesh RAGES against weakness, but to Him, that is the goal, that He may be strong in us.
In asking the Lord about this year of "love" and asking how it could possibly have been that, when I heard the Lord say, "Unconditional love. Melissa, you've never understood a love that is unconditional. You always thought you had to earn it." A few tears ran down my cheek, as I knew that statement was true, and immediately the verses in 1 Corinthians 13 came to mind. I turned there and heard Him read over me, 'Melissa, my "love suffers long and [my love] is kind; [my] love does not envy; [my] love does not parade itself, [my] is not puffed up; [my love] does not behave rudely, [my love] does not seek its own, [my love] is not provoked, [my love] thinks no evil; [my love] does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; [my love] bears all things, [my love] believes all things, [my love] hopes all things, [my love] endures all things. [My love] never fails."'
And it hit me, just like the last year when He redefined health & happiness to me and taught me what TRUE health & happiness were, He had somehow done it; He had taught me what TRUE love was, a love that is not earned, can not be taken away, and is completely unconditional. I never deserved His love, and that is the point. There aren't conditions to keep it. It is covenant. It can't be broken. 1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear." I had SO much fear with love, from God and others, constantly needing to do things because I was so afraid of losing their love. But praise Jesus, that He has a love for me that is not based on my ability to keep it. He is already committed to me. And I am so thankful for that lesson.
Thank you Lord for 2014, you always know how to lead me so perfectly even when I don't understand. Blessings to all of you in 2015, the year of things never yet seen!